The Popular Will: Reformism, Radicalism, Republicanism & Unionism in Britain 1815-1960

Part 5, Chapter XXVIII
V, XXVII: The Breaking Point

After the tumultuous events of Bastille Day, France quickly divided into two factions: the Fédérés or Actionists, who demanded the overthrow of the Kingdom of France, consisting of decommissioned soldiers, workers, and anti-restorationists, and the Royalists, composing sections of the middle class, provincial Catholics, and rural peasants. On the one hand, Chancellor Dillon and the Royal Ministry, and on the other, Boulanger, still exiled in Elba, the CGT, the National Guard, and the various councils and committees formed locally in urban areas by soldiers and former members of the various Labour Committees.

In terms of territory, the Fédérés held cities like Marseilles, Toulouse, Montpellier, and the surrounding regions in the south, a corridor from Lyon to Dijon in the East, a smaller region around Bordeaux, after Boulangists had declared a Commune in support of the Constable upon hearing the news of the restoration, and finally a more radical group of Syndicalists, who pledged allegiance to Boulanger, around the city of Lens in the North. Paris was just about the only city to remain in Royalist hands, although having suffered a significant and bloody flight of its Boulangist population, it was a pale imitation of the bustling city it once was.

France Map.png

Map illustrating the extent of Fédérés control in France in the aftermath of the declaration of the Kingdom of France. Alsace-Lorraine in black, Fédérés areas in bordered in Red.

Both sides nervously awaited the response of the only major force that had yet to declare its allegiance: the French Army within Spain and Portugal, now dislocated from the Etat Française and acting as an independent force unaffiliated with either group.

Unfortunately for the Kingdom of France, within the heart of the French Army, a tempest was brewing. A profound shift in sentiment had taken hold, spreading like wildfire among the ranks. The soldiers, weary from the toils of war and disillusioned by the inequities they witnessed, found solace in the revolutionary winds that swept across France. The mutinous whispers and rumours grew louder as the news of Boulanger’s exile spread through the ranks, their fervour echoing through the encampments like an untamed storm, shaking the very foundations of the military hierarchy. The French Army was fiercely loyal to Boulanger, and attempting to capitalise on this loyalty, Boulanger, now donning the popular title of "Généralissime of the Workers and Soldiers," issued a call to all soldiers outside of French borders to resist the restoration and return to France to overthrow the Monarchy. Many heeded the call.

As dusk settled upon the Spanish front lines, an air of restlessness permeated the ranks of the French troops. A sense of camaraderie and unity with the broader Fédérés movement pulsed through their veins, forging bonds stronger than the iron shackles of traditional command. The soldiers, once bound by duty and obedience, now felt a powerful connection to the aspirations of the people, embodied by the resolute figure of Généralissime Boulanger.

One of the best chronicles of the period was from the journalist and theorist Emile Zola, who headed to the front lines to document the war's passing. Stuck amongst the troops as the conflict broke out, he observed the soldiers deciding their actions and later formulated and collected his notes and diary entries into a genuinely fascinating insight into the Franco-Spanish War, entitled The Breaking Point:

“As I stood amidst the encampments of the French Army, a palpable tension filled the air, like a gathering storm ready to unleash its fury. The soldiers, worn and wearied by the hardships of war and disillusioned by the injustices they witnessed, grappled with a profound dilemma. Loyalty to their commanders clashed with a growing sympathy for the revolutionary winds sweeping across France.

It was July 18th when the first rumours of the restoration emerged in the company I was stationed in, somewhere near Girona. At first, many refused to admit the news was real. Portraits of the Constable were everywhere, and the Generals had taken down none. But then, suddenly, the Generals retreated to their quarters, and frenzied briefings were held. A new general order to remain at their posts and transfer more men to the front resulted in many new soldiers arriving. They confirmed the news. “He is in Elba,” one told me, “they intend to kill him. But, Sir, what will happen to the General? He is our leader. What do we do without him? Why do we fight if not to secure the leadership of the French nation?”

On July 20th, the call to attack a position on the outskirts of the town was refused by the men, who wanted news of the health and well-being of their leader before they continued their efforts. The commander of the battalion I was stationed with, a man called Preud’homme, nervously told the men, whom he had grown very attached and close to, he had no news. With a bead of sweat dripping down his brow, he attempted to insist hesitantly: “If you do not fight, you will be shot.” One of the men, Charles, responded: “Commander, if you force these men to fight without safety assurances of its leader and guide, you will be shot.”

Hushed murmurs and secret gatherings reverberated through the ranks as debates and discussions echoed in the darkness. Some questioned their commanders, the very foundation of the monarchy, while others passionately debated the merits of the Fédérés. Whispers of dissent mingled with the apprehension of potential consequences as each soldier weighed the risks and rewards of joining the burgeoning mutiny. Some argued that Action meant defeating the Spanish, but most believed that the war was lost for now, but France could be saved.

One soldier exclaimed around the campfire, “Why should we defeat foreigners who threaten our safety when so-called Frenchmen place the leader of our nation in chains?” Another interjected, “Because they killed our sons and mothers, spilt blood on the streets of Paris. The criminal regime must be overthrown!”

The following evening, the 21st, as the sun dipped below the horizon, painting the sky with hues of fiery orange and gleaming gold, a group of soldiers gathered around a modest campfire. Jean, a seasoned veteran, spoke with a gravitas earned through years of battlefield experience. His voice carried the weight of conviction as he addressed the group. "Brothers, do ya not hear the call of Boulanger? The people rise against the usurpers at home, and the winds of change sweep through our beloved homeland."

Pierre, the young recruit, frowned, his forehead creased with uncertainty. "But what of our duty, Jean? Are we not bound by honour and discipline to obey our superiors?"

Jean's eyes sparkled with an ardour that belied his age. "Aye, we are soldiers, but we're also citizens of France. Should we not stand with the people when they demand justice and equality? Our loyalty must not be confined just to blind obedience; it must encompass the very ideals that unite us all."

Marc, a burly soldier with a rough exterior and a heart of gold, chimed in with a gruff voice, "You talk of ideals, but what about the risks, Jean? If we join this rebellion, what fate awaits us?" Jean's gaze softened as he considered Marc's words. "Aye, there are risks, my friend. But there's also the chance to be part of something greater than ourselves, to shape the future of our nation. Is that not worth the peril?"

The young soldier, Antoine, leaned forward, his eyes gleaming with the sweet and naive manner befitting of a young revolutionary. "I agree with Jean. If we want to resist the usurpers, we must take risks. Our souls yearn for a fairer France, one without Lords, without masters. The people are one with Boulanger, it is the General is the man who stands with us. Let us not falter in the face of fear."

A spirited debate ensued, voices rising and arguments clashing like the crackling of the campfire. Some clung steadfastly to preserving order and tradition, while others fervently advocated for embracing the people's cause. In the warm glow of the flickering flames, the intensity of their discussions laid bare the inner turmoil and conflict each soldier grappled with.

As the night wore on, the whispers of dissent swelled, igniting the embers of rebellion. The weight of the decision to join the mutiny burdened the conscience of every soldier, each grappling with the consequences and the allure of change. Yet, amidst the darkness, a shared disillusionment and a yearning for a brighter future began to knit them together.

With each passing moment, the resolve to embrace Boulanger's cause grew stronger, binding the soldiers in an unbreakable bond. I, myself, found the exchange to be stirring. The most striking aspect of it all was the absence of officers - fearful of the response of their men, they had fled and headed to the officer's quarters early that night. The once stark division between loyalty to the State and allegiance to the people blurred, and like a fortress under siege from within, the military hierarchy started to crumble. I felt a sense that the men didn’t need their commanders, save Boulanger, any longer.

Finally, a figure emerged from the dark, lit by the warm glow of a torch. It was Preud’homme. “Men, I stand with you,” he said. “The politicians in Paris who restored the throne are nothing but sons of whores. I stand with our Boulanger. I stand with you.”

A fierce cheer erupted throughout the camp. I was whipped up in the excitement, despite my reservations about their ideology, I could not resist but help the men gather their ammunition, machine guns, and supplies and march north towards the border.

In that pivotal moment, the French Army stood on the precipice of history. The choice made, hearts aligned, we were poised to unleash a cataclysmic upheaval that would reverberate through the annals of time. As I witnessed this historic mutiny take shape, I could feel the winds of change brushing against my very soul, and I knew that we were about to become part of something far greater than ourselves.”

Eventually, nearly uniformly, the soldiers chose Boulanger. Those who did not, like Zola, were swept with camaraderie and belonging between the troops and their Généralissime. The choice between continuing a foreign conflict and supporting the revolutionary cause at home became a burden they could no longer bear. The mutiny took root, spreading like an infectious fever, eroding the soldiers' loyalty to their former commanders.


Emile Zola, Author of 'The Breaking Point'

In the cover of darkness, whispers of defiance echoed through the encampments. A ripple of dissent coursed through the ranks, gradually building into a crescendo of rebellion. Soldiers, with faces obscured by shadows and hearts aflame with revolutionary zeal, cast aside the chains of obedience. The once unyielding military hierarchy crumbled beneath the weight of their unified defiance from officers like Preud’homme, and rank-and-file soldiers alike. As the first light of dawn brushed the horizon, the mutiny erupted in a cataclysmic display of dissent. Soldiers, once united in battle, now stood united against their former masters. Orders were met with silent stares, flags of insubordination hoisted high above the barricades. The once disciplined ranks fragmented into pockets of rebellion, each bearing the indomitable spirit of the Actionist movement.

The mutiny reverberated through the encampments, rippling across the vast expanse of the front lines. Soldiers seized their weapons and shed their uniforms, their allegiance now pledged to Boulanger and the cause he championed. Their voices, once subdued, now rose in unison, chanting revolutionary anthems that echoed through the valleys and pierced the very soul of the Spanish countryside. The mutinous tide engulfed the French Army, leaving disarray in its wake. The disintegration of the military machine was palpable, it was reduced to a mere shadow of its strength. Command structures crumbled, replaced by a spontaneous organization fueled by the unwavering determination of the mutineers. Their destination? Home. As the mutiny spread, the French forces in the FDI found themselves teetering on the edge of chaos. Waves of desertion swept through the ranks, soldiers abandoning their posts to join the swelling ranks of the mutineers. The front lines, once brimming with the might of the French military, now echoed with the hollow footsteps of a fractured army.

As the forces spread throughout the ranks, soldiers, regaled as heroes in France at this time, passed through town by town, spreading the mutiny against Boulanger to general society. Resistance was merciless: officials who didn't pledge allegiance to the Généralissime of the Workers and Soldiers were summarily shot. Along France's southern border with the FDI, settlement after settlement declared the formation of Insurrectionary Communes of the Workers and Soldiers of France.

Michel Preud'homme, the Officer from the pivotal passage of The Breaking Point, found himself elected to the coordinating committee of the Carcassone National Guard on July 26th, having marched for two days from Girona to liberate the town. Similar advances were conducted out of the initial territory held by the Fédérés, and the cities of Mâcon, Dole, St-Ettienne, Grenoble, and Amiens were captured by the rebels with little fighting. Nearly uniformly, the trajectory was the same: the local police would defect to the National Guard, a Commune and Committee would be established, and establish contact with local Fédérés. In four days, the Kingdom of France's southern border stood at Castres rather than Girona. Whatever was emerging from the Insurrectionary Communes, Labour Committees, and Fédéré-held territory was gaining ground.

France after the collapse of the French Army in Spain, early August 1892:
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Part 5, Chapter XXIX
V, XXIX: The End of the Franco-Iberian War

The summer of 1892 was a defining period for Europe, especially for Iberia and France. From the early mutinies in the French army to the eventual rise of the FDI in Spain and then the Iberian Peninsular, this was a time of political upheaval and shifting alliances. The FDI, sensing the vulnerability of the weakened French to the north, seized the opportunity to exploit the internal divisions within the French ranks and launched an offensive on July 28th, 1892.

Like predators closing in on wounded prey, they launched relentless offensives, their advance fueled by the disarray and disorganization of their French counterparts. The mutineers, burdened by the weight of their own rebellion, struggled to mount an effective defence against the resurgent onslaught.

With each passing day, the expulsion of French forces from the FDI became inevitable. The momentum of the FDI, buoyed by their successes and emboldened by their adversaries' weaknesses, grew stronger with every strategic manoeuvre. They pressed forward, seizing control of once-held French positions and eroding the remnants of the French military presence in Iberia within fifteen days.

The mutiny and subsequent expulsion marked a watershed moment in the conflict, forever altering its course. It was a seismic shift that reverberated through history, leaving an indelible mark on the trajectory of the Actionist movement and the fate of the French Army. They left but believed they would return as soon as France was saved. The bonds forged in rebellion would guide their next steps as they navigated a tumultuous landscape where loyalty and defiance intertwined. The mutiny had set in motion a chain of events that would shape the destiny of nations and test the resolve of the Actionist movement to its very core.

Sensing the vulnerability of their weakened adversary, the FDI’s main armed forces, the Volunteers of the Federation, acted like predators closing in on wounded prey. The internal divisions within the French ranks, exacerbated by mutineers within the French Army, presented a golden opportunity to finally rid the peninsular of all the occupiers.


Zorrilla, a senior figure in the FDI's Government

The FDI launched relentless offensive manoeuvres, fueled by the disarray and disorganization of their French counterparts, who were burdened by the weight of their own rebellion and struggled to mount an effective defence. Each passing day made the expulsion of French forces from the FDI an increasingly inevitable reality. The conflict reached a watershed as the FDI pressed forward, seizing control of once-held French positions and eroding the remnants of the French military presence in Iberia. The mutiny and subsequent expulsion forever altered its course. This seismic shift would change the course of the war and indelibly mark the trajectory of the Actionist movement and the fate of the French Army.

In the newly christened Kingdom of France, King Louis Philippe was a monarch under siege. He appointed General Raoul de Boisdeffre, a stern and experienced leader, to helm the defence against the revolutionaries. Boisdeffre faced an unenviable task. With arsenals ransacked by Actionists and the National Guard throughout Paris, he struggled to restore order amidst the chaos. The King, meanwhile, sought refuge in Versailles but found the palace a shadow of its former glory—ruined and ransacked by Boulangist rebels. Forced to sleep on the floor of the King’s chambers, he remained steadfast. "We will celebrate our victory with a Fête," he declared, "bringing together all of France in a restored people's palace." Fat chance, as it stood.


General Raoul de Boisdeffre, tasked with saving the Kingdom of France

In Paris, the situation was dire. General Boisdeffre attempted to subdue the capital with public executions of captured National Guard commanders and forced expulsions from working-class districts. Panic spread through the city, triggering an exodus called ‘the Long March.’ Thousands fled, with only a fraction reaching the revolutionary capital of Lyon under the gruelling summer sun. Meanwhile, the Fédérés were buoyed by troops and supplies from the Northern Front of the Franco-Spanish War. France, a nation tearing itself apart, saw its capital and the countryside drawn into the fray.

Abroad, Britain and Germany watched the unfolding crisis with growing concern, yet they held back from intervening. In their eyes, France’s internal conflict could hamper its ability to wage war on its neighbours, granting them valuable respite. Information flowed more from refugees than tight-lipped diplomats, painting a picture of a nation on the brink. The question loomed large for the FDI: to accept the status quo ante bellum or to push into French territory? Senior statesman Zorilla, ever the pragmatist, urged caution. "The risk of provoking the Actionists into resuming war in the peninsula is too great," he argued before the Central Committee of the Volunteers for the Federation.

In France, the terror unleashed by anarchists mingled with the Actionists' chauvinist rhetoric, creating a volatile cocktail against the FDI. Stories of atrocities became alarmingly common. One poignant example was a Jewish baker in Toulouse, who was burned within it alongside his family after refusing to hand over his business to a Labour Committee for the workers to manage. This ignited outrage, further fanning the flames of conflict. The prominent figures of Sorel and Maurras, wielding their pen as their sword through their newspaper, found themselves unable to quell the escalating violence. The movement's leader, Generallismé Boulanger, belatedly and half-heartedly attempted to intervene, but his efforts were largely seen as too little, too late. Aware that renewed war loomed on the horizon, the FDI courted potential allies.

Italy, a member of the Accord powers and a nation growing weary of French and Spanish instability, became the Federation's focus. In a significant diplomatic coup, the FDI orchestrated daring rescues of Italians trapped in Monaco, earning them the goodwill of King Umberto I of Italy and effectively isolating France further on the European stage. They also sought to make peace with the Empire of Brazil despite the lingering resentment between the two states. The efforts would be fruitful: the FDI and the Empire of Brazil would formally sign a Memorandum of Understanding by the end of the year and establish formal diplomatic ties, including official recognition of both countries' borders and the exchange of the end of claims from the Brazilian Empire to territory in Portugal, for a formal renouncement of all colonial lands previously held by Spain and Portugal.

The repercussions of the turmoil in Europe rippled across the globe, reaching Spain's colonial territories of the Philippines and Cuba. There, the local militias, inspired by the FDI’s defiance and sensing the weakening grip of their colonial masters, rallied for independence. The United States, with its own imperial ambitions, looked on with particular interest. The “yellow journalism” phenomenon in America, with its sensationalized stories of Spanish atrocities, stirred a thirst for intervention, particularly in Cuba.

As August drew to a close, the situation remained precariously balanced. While emerging as a powerful force in Iberia, the FDI was aware of the fragile peace that was held—with internal and external enemies poised to strike. In France, King Louis Philippe and General de Boisdeffre faced a monumental task of not just holding their nation together but also confronting the spectre of the Actionists and the deep scars that the conflict had etched into French society. One thing was for sure: the FDI were able to claim a decisive victory in the Franco-Iberian War by early September.

As the dust settled on the battlefields and diplomats plotted in shadowed halls, one question lingered in the minds of leaders and common folk alike: In a Europe where alliances were as fluid as they were fragile, what would the next move be on this perilous chessboard? From the early signs of rebellion in June to the rise of the FDI by August, the summer of 1892 was a whirlwind of political and military manoeuvring.
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Part 5, Chapter XXX
V, XXX: The Puppetmaster's Hand

As France descended into chaos, Britain’s newly elected Parliament met for the first time on September 1st, 1892. The delay was caused by an illness debilitating President-Regent Stanley, and in the end, he was too ill to attend, so the High Chancellor A.V. Dicey opened Parliament and read the Speech at the State Opening. The Unionist Government made promises on matters of defense, education, and welfare, as agreed in at the Highbury Hall meeting and Second Unionist Congress.

In the days prior, a new Union Council was appointed that confirmed the suspicions of many: the Unionists had become, essentially, the Tories. Senator R.A Cross was confirmed as Leader of the Senate, Arthur Balfour was made War Secretary, and his brother, Gerald, was put in charge of Agriculture. St John Brodrick, a key Irish Unionist, was tasked with the Education remit, and most significantly, Senator Charles Gordon was given the crucial task of Keeper of the Seal.

7th Union Council
Prime Minister, President of the Union Council, Leader of the House of Commons - Joseph Chamberlain, Unionist
Vice President of the Union Council, Leader of the Senate - Senator R.A. Cross, Unionist
Chancellor of the Exchequer - Randolph Churchill, Unionist
Secretary of State for the Foreign Office - Senator Robert Cecil, Unionist
Secretary of State for the Home Office - Senator Henry Matthews, Unionist
Secretary of State for War - Senator Arthur Balfour, Unionist
Secretary of State for Education - St John Brodrick, Unionist
Secretary of State for Colonial Affairs - Sir Robert Herbert, Unionist
Secretary of State for State Affairs - John Henry Chamberlain, Unionist
Secretary of State for Trade - George Goschen, Unionist
Secretary of State for Agriculture - Gerald Balfour, Unionist
Keeper of the Great Seal of the Union - Senator Charles Gordon, Unionist

While many speculated what led Chamberlain to suggest such appointments to President-Regent Stanley, in reality, the changes were insisted by the real leader of the government, Senator Robert Cecil, or “Call-Me-Salisbury,” as the opposition goaded him. Cecil was the driving force behind Unionism, with Chamberlain thoroughly sidelined despite nominally holding the position of Prime Minister. Cecil’s allies were appointed to lower cabinet positions, too, further undermining Chamberlain’s authority within the cabinet. These appointments were derided by the LDP, with the opposition describing Whitehall as ‘Hotel Cecil,’ thanks to the three relatives of the Foreign Secretary in the cabinet. Senator William Morris of the SDF described Prime Minister as being operated by "The Puppetmaster's Hand," alluding to Cecil.

In the newly constituted Parliament, the British stance towards the French Civil War was a matter of utmost importance, given their prior relations with the FDI. In Germany, Chancellor Leo von Caprivi was keen to isolate and control France through a web of alliances, and therefore the German's support would be firmly with the Royalists, despite their aversion to the French in general. This desire meshed well with Britain's intention to corner France. While Cecil and the Unionist government re-evaluated Britain's stance on the French Civil War, a confidential meeting took place between Chancellor Caprivi, Senator Cecil, and Prime Minister Chamberlain. The thrust of their discussion was the rapidly evolving European landscape. With the complex web engulfing France and the rising tide of Actionism, both leaders recognised the need for a unified stance.


Chancellor Leo von Caprivi of the German Empire

Cecil believed that if Britain was to continue supporting the FDI, it had to be prepared for potential backlash from remnants of an Actionist French regime or other European powers that might see the FDI's rise as a threat - and therefore, the British Government should do what it could to avoid an Actionist victory. Recognising that Britain was in no state to fight a continental war, echoing the findings of the Highbury Hall conflab, Cecil endorsed military reforms and build-up, believing that under the first Unionist Government, the military had been neglected.

Senator Arthur Balfour, the Secretary of State for War, was asked to reassess Britain's military readiness. The Royal Navy’s activities in the Channel intensified, with regular drills and increased patrolling. One of the main focuses of the new government would be on the armed forces, which received a huge reform in the next year led by Balfour. The Balfour Reforms, formalized under General Order 101/1892, marked a significant reorganization of the British Army. Dan Snow’s Military History of the Union of Britain summarised these reforms effectively:

“As per the order, a web of multi-battalion regiments was created across various states, with a specific structure for England, Wales, the Orange State, Scotland, and Ireland, funnelling into a state command, which in turn would funnel to a Union and Empire-wide command.

The primary change involved the Ordnance and Admiralty Committee of the Grand Council would be reconstituted into the Central Ordnance and Admiralty Command (COAC), which would coordinate global military efforts from the British Army in the Empire and beyond. This was to integrate with the plans for a join Imperial Defence Committee, which would bridge the gap between military leaders and Parliament.

In addition to this, structural reforms were conducted. Every English state, as well as Wales, the Orange State, and Scotland, had a regiment with two regular or "line" battalions and two militia battalions, while Ireland was allotted two line and three militia battalions. The historical regiments of foot and county militia regiments were renamed accordingly.

Moreover, the county rifle volunteers transitioned to being designated as volunteer battalions, with each regiment linked to its local "Regimental District" via headquarters location and territorial name. Starting in 1892, regimental numbers became informal, with battalions now known by their number within the regiment and the district name.

Notably, several units like "The Buffs," the Cameron Highlanders, and the "Black Watch" advocated to retain their unique names within their battalion titles. There were some exceptions to the standard setup: for instance, the Cameron Highlanders began with just a single regular battalion. Furthermore, the Union’s Loyal Rifle Corps and the Rifle Brigade had unique arrangements based on "rifle" traditions rather than territorial affiliations.

The reforms also encompassed significant changes to service terms and uniform designs. Enlistment periods were adjusted, with short service now extended to seven years of active duty and five years in reserve. Soldiers with time served had the option to extend their reserve service by an additional four years, classified under Section D of the First Class Army Reserve.

Uniforms underwent a standardization attempt, with different states receiving distinct colors and patterns. For instance, Regency regiments had dark blue facings, English and Welsh regiments bore white facings, Irish regiments donned green facings, and Scottish units featured yellow facings. Officers' uniforms were adorned with lace patterns representative of their regions.

However, the effort to standardize regimental insignia and abolish "tribal" distinctions faced resistance. The most notable example was the merger of the 75th and 92nd regiments to form the Gordon Highlanders, which sparked significant protests and symbolic gestures from both regiments. Alongside these reforms, there was a drive to bolster army numbers, aiming to recruit an additional one million troops sourced from Metropolitan Britain, the Unions, and colonial holdings. This expansion was coupled with a considerable surge in funding and equipment, re-establishing the British Military as the world's preeminent land and sea force.”

Chamberlain's talks with Caprivi highlighted the significant shift in Germany's foreign policy. With the non-renewal of the Reinsurance Treaty in 1891, it was evident that Germany was distancing itself from Russia. While Kaiser Wilhelm was reluctant to part ways with Austria, it was clear that Germany was keen on strengthening its ties with Britain at the expense of the seemingly bellicose Austrians. Back in London, the public and the press were closely watching this shift, worried about getting embroiled in mainland Europe's intricate web of alliances. A significant challenge was public opinion.

The youth, especially those in universities, viewed the radical states, like the FDI and Actionist France rise as a beacon of change, a fresh wind in a stagnating Europe, juxtaposing the conservative nature of the Government. Many public demonstrations demanding the government ally with the FDI to defeat Boulanger were seen in major cities. The growth in Republicanism caused by the election also brought with it renewed public displays, meetings, and periodicals supporting the abolition of the Regency. The press, ever hungry for stories, portrayed this as a nation divided. Following stories of the revolt occurring in France and with an onrush of literature from Sorel, Maurras, and Kaufer in late-1892, a budding Actionist movement within the SDF emerged centred around Henry Hyndman. While the party as a whole supported Pactism and the FDI in the Franco-Iberian conflict, a small tendency within the party deviated from this, creatively described as the 'deviationists.'

In December, a confidential meeting took place between Cecil and a select group of Unionist leaders. The aim? To determine the long-term stance towards the FDI and the evolving situation in France. As a whole, the Unionist leaders supported superficial support for the Kingdom of France, but at the cost of the Chancellery formally recognising the FDI and signing a peace treaty. Some argued for increased support, even suggesting military aid should Actionist France win and re-attempt to subdue the FDI. Others, more cautious, felt that Britain should continue its covert support to the FDI but avoid direct involvement in the French Civil War.

In the end, a middle path was chosen. Britain would increase its covert aid to the FDI and offer financial support, with Germany, to the Kingdom of France, ensuring they had the resources to stand against any Actionist offensive. But they would stop short of open military support, preferring to use diplomatic channels to discourage other European nations from intervening. The French Civil War had changed the European landscape. Britain, with its powerful Unionist government, was treading carefully, trying to maintain its influence while ensuring its own security and stability.

Alongside this, the Government began an energetic program of reform to win and repay the confidence placed in it by the voters and reduce the tensions in the electorate. The familiar hum of anticipation filled Parliament's chambers as A.V. Dicey prepared to speak. In the absence of President-Regent Stanley, Dicey took on the mantle to articulate the vision of the Unionist Government in the face of evolving times.


A.V. Dicey, High Chancellor and future President of the Council of Great Britain

The spotlight shone first on education. Dicey emphasized the heritage and reputation of Britain's educational institutions. He proposed select universities mirroring the major denominations, staunchly asserting, "Our educational might is forged not by sprawling expansion but by preserving the sanctity of our centers of learning." It was a firm reminder: Britain's academic legacy would be safeguarded at all costs. With this, however, would come unwelcome central control for the Celtic States, promising clashes in the future.

Social welfare became a topic of pronounced debate since the 1889 London General Strike. The Government outlined a welfare vision straddling the line between progressive and traditional values. The Unionists advocated for a system where the truly vulnerable would find succor, yet the onus of self-reliance would remain paramount. The state's responsibility was to provide a safety net, not an enduring cradle. This sentiment, however, did not sit well with all. Progressive Unionists, like Jesse Collings, voiced their disquiet, lamenting the dilution of the bolder welfare schemes originally championed by Churchill in the Second Programme. Collings and his ilk saw an opportunity for Britain to evolve its stance on welfare, and they felt the conservative pivot was a missed chance. Collings said, "We brought the people with us by proclaiming a state of unity, now we divide them into the deserving and undeserving poor. How poor."

On infrastructure, the proposed Infrastructure and Employment Act was a testament to the Unionist vision for a large-scale work scheme to build up infrastructure. Prime Minister Joseph Chamberlain and State Affairs Secretary John Henry Chamberlain were entrusted with ensuring a harmonious blend between State initiatives and Union investment. Private investment would be welcomed, railroads would be expanded, and a mix of State and Union funds would fund bridges, military installations, and improvements to cities' infrastructure.

Closing his address, Dicey touched upon a proposed Imperial Defence Committee (IDC), reiterating Britain's indomitable spirit on the world stage. The committee's mandate was twofold: ensure Britain's security and coordinate its defense with the Unions. Initially, the IDC would include representatives from the British administration in India and government representatives in Australasia and Canada, with ex-officio positions for leaders of responsible governments in the colonies.

As Dicey concluded, the Unionist vision crystallized: a future where Britain would walk the tightrope between tradition and progress, ever wary of tilting too far in either direction. The challenge now lay in navigating these nuanced pathways as murmurs of both agreement and dissent echoed through the corridors of power.

As the new Parliament assembled, Britain found itself at a crossroads, balancing domestic reforms with the looming spectre of continental turmoil. The Unionist government, with Cecil's quiet hand guiding its decisions, sought to redefine the nation's identity amidst internal dissent and external threats. While the fervour of youth clamoured for revolutionary change and alliances shifted on the European stage, Britain's strategic diplomacy and domestic introspection became crucial. The coming years would test the mettle of this nation, its leaders, and its people as they navigated the challenges of an ever-changing geopolitical landscape.
Part 5, Chapter XXXI
V, XXXI: The New Risorgimento

The year was 1892, and the winds of change that had swept across Europe found their way to Italy. The nation's history, like a mosaic of contrasting hues, was about to be painted with the vivid strokes of a new ideology – Actionism. As whispers of revolution and fervent cries for change echoed through the streets of France, the neighboring nation of Italy stood at a crossroads. The land of ancient civilizations and Renaissance art had been grappling with its own set of challenges in the late 19th century. Economic hardships, social disparities, and political upheavals had cast a shadow over the Italian Peninsula.

In the bustling squares of Italy, where oranges hung heavy on the trees, a movement was born. The Fasci Italiano, or Fasci d'Azione Italiano emerged as a beacon of hope for the disenfranchised. Inspired by the revolutionary winds that had swept across France, the Fasci galvanized the poorest and most exploited members of society. They transformed the frustrations and discontent of the masses into a coherent vision of a better future grounded in the establishment of new rights.


Giovanni Giolitti, Prime Minister of Italy

The movement's demands were straightforward – fair land rents, higher wages, lower local taxes, and the equitable distribution of common land. But within these seemingly simple demands lay the aspirations of a marginalized population yearning for justice. From July to October 1892, approximately 170 Fasci were established in Italy. As the movement gained momentum, its membership swelled to over 300,000 by the time November's election loomed on the horizon. Public demonstrations became a constant source of concern for the Italian Government.

The Fasci was a federation of various associations encompassing farm workers, tenant farmers, small sharecroppers, artisans, intellectuals, and industrial laborers. They came together under the banner of change, their unity symbolized by the bundle of sticks – "Fascio" – signifying that while a single stick may break, a bundle was unbreakable.

Amidst the tumultuous sea of political ideologies, the Italian Fasci carried a unique perspective on Actionism. Many of its leaders were devout Catholics, and this infusion of faith into their movement lent it a distinct character. In their meeting halls, crucifixes hung alongside purple Actionist flags, and portraits of revolutionaries like Garibaldi, Mazzini, Sorel, and Marx adorned the walls.

Their conviction led them to proclaim, "Jesus was a true socialist and wanted just what the Fasci were demanding."

As the November 1892 Election drew near, Italy found itself standing on the precipice of change. The conditions leading up to the election were far from ideal. The working class, a significant segment of the population, remained excluded from the electoral process. The contesting parties included the Liberals under Giovanni Giolitti, the Right led by Antonio Starabba di Rudinì, and the Radicals headed by Felice Cavallotti. Prime Minister Giovanni Giolitti, now at the helm of the Italian Government, faced the daunting task of guiding the nation through these turbulent waters.

Beyond Italy's borders, the nation's allies, Germany and Britain, watched with keen interest. As members of the Accord powers, they both had a vested interest in Italy's stability. The outcome of the election held the potential to not only reshape Italy's domestic landscape but also influence its diplomatic relationships. Within the political spectrum, another new movement was brewing. The Social Democratic Party of Italy, founded in 1892 as the Party of Italian Workers, aligned itself with the principles of Pactism. This movement stood in stark contrast to the Actionists, condemning their deviation from the ideals of Pactism. In the midst of Italy's political maelstrom, the PSI sought to carve out its own path.

Amidst the fervor of the Fasci's emergence, Italy hurtled toward a pivotal moment in its history. As the nation grappled with newfound hope and mounting tension, the stage was set for the November 1892 Election, an event that would both test and redefine the nation's political landscape. The nation was poised for transformation, and the choices made in the coming days would shape its destiny. The storm of Actionism had arrived, and Italy was about to be swept up in its tempestuous embrace.

The sun hung low in the sky, casting long shadows across the Italian Peninsula as the nation held its collective breath, awaiting the outcome of the pivotal November 1892 Election. This election was not just a contest between political parties; it was a referendum on the path Italy would tread. As the results of the election slowly unfolded, they painted a bleak and revealing picture of Italy's political landscape. The new composition of the Chamber of Deputies did little to alleviate the growing tensions within the nation.

The Liberal faction emerged as the victor, but their victory was hardly a resounding one. Securing 369 seats, they had garnered the largest share, yet it was evident that Italy was not embracing their vision with open arms. Their message of moderation and gradual reform had, at best, struck a cautious chord with the voters. The Right managed to secure 76 seats, a testament to their unyielding conservatism. Still, their ideals faced an uphill battle against a changing political climate, and their influence seemed to wane. The Radicals found themselves with 63 seats. Their vision for radical change, though passionate, had failed to ignite a widespread fervor among the electorate.

However, the election was marred by controversy and allegations of vote-rigging and manipulation. In fear of Actionist sympathisers gaining seats in the Chamber, Radicals were arrested prior to the election and found themselves harassed and oppressed by the police. Key Actionist and Socialist figures were targetted also, and the Government resorted to vote rigging to ensure they retained their majority, with the tacit approval of the King and the Accord Powers, who wished to prevent the Actionist revolution from spreading to the Italian Peninsular.

Accusations of irregularities echoed across Italy, casting a long and dark shadow over the electoral process. Both the Fasci and the Socialist Party cried foul, asserting that the results did not accurately reflect the will of the people. Protests erupted across the nation as Actionists and Socialists took to the streets to voice their outrage. The piazzas and boulevards became arenas of dissent as citizens from all walks of life united in their demand for justice and fairness. Banners waved, slogans echoed, and impassioned speeches resounded through the air, creating a cacophony of discontent.

The allegations of vote rigging were at the forefront of these protests. Suspicion had swirled around the election process for weeks, fueled by whispers of irregularities and manipulation. Stories of tampered ballots and suppressed voices spread like wildfire, further stoking the flames of dissent.

The government's response to the protests was swift and severe. Authorities cracked down on demonstrators, attempting to quell the unrest with force. Tear gas filled the air, and clashes between protesters and law enforcement became increasingly common. The nation teetered on the edge of chaos as the discontent and frustration of the people reached a boiling point.

As the November sun dipped below the horizon, Giacomo, an art student from Turin, felt a surge of excitement coursing through his veins. Having recently relocated to Milan, the narrow streets were alive with anticipation as if the very cobblestones beneath his feet were poised for change. He was but a young man, barely in his twenties, yet his heart thumped with the conviction of a lifetime. He recorded his experience in his diaries:

“I had grown up in the shadow of hardships that had befallen his family's humble farm. Rising land rents and oppressive local taxes had cast a heavy burden on their shoulders. It was a burden shared by countless others, those who tilled the soil and toiled beneath the unforgiving Sicilian sun. These struggles had shaped his worldview, and I was determined to make my voice heard.

That evening, as I joined the throngs of fellow protesters, I felt a profound sense of unity - a renewed risorgimento. The purpose rosette I pinned to my chest having been given it by a passer-by bore the emblem of the Fasci, a symbol of our collective hope. Together, we were more than just individuals; they were a force, a chorus of voices demanding justice.

The streets echoed with chants and slogans, resonating with the grievances of the marginalized. I marched alongside my comrades, my determination unwavering. The evening air was charged with tension, yet there was an undeniable sense of purpose that bound us together.

As the demonstration swelled, I couldn't help but glance at the historical buildings that lined the streets. They bore witness to centuries of Italian history, but tonight, they bore witness to something new—an awakening. The purple Actionist flag, a symbol of change, waved proudly alongside the crucifix, a testament to the melding of faith and reform.

But our cries for justice were met with resistance. Giolotti's response was swift and harsh. Suddenly, a loud bang pierced my ears, and I felt a sharp pain shoot up my leg, and I fell, struggling to breathe. I had been hit with grapeshot and was near death. A member of the Fasci picked me up and took me to a doctor who treated my wounds. Another few minutes, he said, and I would have died. At that moment, I knew that I was part of something larger than myself. I was part of a movement that dared to challenge the status quo, a movement that believed in a brighter future. As the protests raged on, I clung to the hope from my hospital bed that their collective voice would eventually break through the barriers of oppression and ring out as a call for change.”

The Giacomo in question? Giacomo Balla, the future leader of Partito d'Azione Italiano. He would forever walk with a limp after the shooting, a distinguishing feature of the man who would haunt the nightmares of the Italian establishment over the next two decades.


Giacomo Balla, the future leader of Partito d'Azione Italiano

As Italy grappled with the aftermath of the November 1892 Election, it was evident that the nation stood at a precipice. The Liberal faction, holding a significant majority in the Chamber of Deputies, would play a pivotal role in shaping Italy's future. Their commitment to cautious progress and reform would guide the nation through the challenges and uncertainties that lay ahead. Yet, this election had laid bare the deep-seated divisions within Italy. The discontent and disillusionment simmering beneath the surface threatened to erupt into something far more destructive. Italy's future appeared increasingly uncertain, and the echoes of a nation teetering on the brink of chaos grew louder with each passing day.
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V, XXXI: The New Risorgimento

The Giacomo in question? Giacomo Balla, the future leader of the Partito Actionista Italia. He would forever walk with a limp after the shooting, a distinguishing feature of the man who would haunt the nightmares of the Italian establishment over the next two decades.

Once again I'm here with only a linguistic annotation to offer:

That name is more than a little messed up. First of all "action" is written "azione" in Italian, meaning that the word would be "Azionista", not "Actionista". Even then, Italy has had two (or two and a half, from a certain perspective) parties throughout her history bearing a name inspired by the word for action and both were called "Partito d'Azione", "Party of Action". The reason is pretty simple: azionista as an adjective sounds quite a bit awkward in the Italian language. Let alone that as a noun it's already a financial term which means "shareholder", since shares of a comapny are called azioni in Italian. And finally there's the little detail that Italia is just a noun. It doesn't work in that position with a preposition, though the dedicated adjective would be preferable.

My counterproposal would be "Partito d'Azione Italiano". It works really well as a homage to Giuseppe Mazzini (one of the founding fathers of Italy and the founder of the first incarnation of the Partito d'Azione), who also happens to be too dead to complain about ideological discrepancies (always a plus).
Once again I'm here with only a linguistic annotation to offer:

That name is more than a little messed up. First of all "action" is written "azione" in Italian, meaning that the word would be "Azionista", not "Actionista". Even then, Italy has had two (or two and a half, from a certain perspective) parties throughout her history bearing a name inspired by the word for action and both were called "Partito d'Azione", "Party of Action". The reason is pretty simple: azionista as an adjective sounds quite a bit awkward in the Italian language. Let alone that as a noun it's already a financial term which means "shareholder", since shares of a comapny are called azioni in Italian. And finally there's the little detail that Italia is just a noun. It doesn't work in that position with a preposition, though the dedicated adjective would be preferable.

My counterproposal would be "Partito d'Azione Italiano". It works really well as a homage to Giuseppe Mazzini (one of the founding fathers of Italy and the founder of the first incarnation of the Partito d'Azione), who also happens to be too dead to complain about ideological discrepancies (always a plus).
Once again, many thanks for pointing a linguistic slip up of mine - I’ll make this amendment ☺️ Partito D’Azione Italiano works best for me, with the Mazzini connection I think it’s perfect. Thanks!
Part 5, Chapter XXXII New
V, XXXII: The Reluctant Revolutionary

The 1892 US General Election saw a competition between three main parties, Farmer-Labor, Republicans, and Democrats. Still, within these groups, factions existed that made tracking the support each candidate received difficult. The Republicans were beginning to divide between Progressive and Conservative wings, with a smaller faction advocating free coinage of silver, known as the ‘free silver’ movement. The Democrats were divided between those favouring free silver, who were generally more progressive and known as the ‘Silver Democrats.’ Those against it, known as the ‘Gold Democrats,’ were generally classically liberal, preferring ‘sound money.’

By contrast, the Farmer-Labor Party seemed relatively united on many issues; most notably free silver. This attracted more and more of the Silver Democrats to the Farmer-Labor Party (FLP) and made them more of a serious proposition in the eyes of the electorate. The FLP had also been boosted by the 1891 gubernatorial elections, in which S. B. Erwin became Governor of Kentucky.

Upon his term beginning, he quickly introduced legislation to purchase telegraphs and railroads for the state and introduced a graduated income tax to pay for state-controlled education. Divisions between different groups within the Kentucky Farmer-Labor Party hampered some of the progress, but overall, the administration was considered a success. Farmer-Labor members were positive that they could capture some electoral college votes leading into the elections.

The FLP's convention in July 1892 was not just another gathering; it was the culmination of diverse labor and agrarian movements, bearing the hopes and aspirations of millions. The convention hall was a mosaic of America's working class. Delegates from the Northern, Southern, and "Colored" associations of the Farmers Alliance filled the room. The powerful presence of the Colored Farmers Alliance was especially notable. Despite the initial reluctance from Southern Farmers to include them, their sheer number, over 1.2 million strong, and the strategic advantage they provided in garnering Republican support, made them indispensable.

Everywhere one looked, there were badges and symbols representing various factions, a testament to the amalgamation of groups that the Farmer-Labor Party had managed to bring together.

As delegates roamed the hall, they engaged in animated discussions, bridging divides and building consensus. Reporters from the National Reform Press Association, an alliance of newspapers rallying behind the Farmer-Labor movement, scribbled notes fervently, capturing every nuance of this historic gathering. Charles Macune's "Macune Plan" was a frequent topic, with many advocating its salient points, such as the eight-hour workday and the innovative agrarian "Sub-Treasury Plan."

The sudden demise of Leonidas L. Polk, the popular FLP organizer, cast a somber shadow. His unexpected absence was palpable, but the party needed to move forward. As Walter Q. Gresham's name began to circulate as a potential candidate, the atmosphere grew thick with expectation. And when his nomination was announced, a roar of approval swept through the convention hall. Gresham, known for his rulings against big railroad companies, was seen as a beacon of hope. Hardworking farmers, their hands bearing the marks of relentless labor, cheered in unison, marking a moment of unity for the nascent Farmer-Labor Party.

Gresham had been a Republican candidate for the nomination in 1884 and 1888, achieving the endorsement of forerunners to the FLP like the Agricultural Wheel, Grange, and Farmers Alliance in 1888. He had served as Postmaster-General in President Chester A Arthur’s cabinet in 1883, briefly as Treasury Secretary, and has extensive experience in the Federal Courts. He was a man caught between two worlds. His Republican past was a testament to his deep-rooted beliefs in a conservative, structured government.

Yet, as he witnessed the changing tide and the struggles of the common man, his heart leaned more and more towards the FLP's promise of change. The internal battle was evident every time he took the stage. One could see it in the slight hesitation before he spoke, in the way his eyes darted across the room, seeking both approval and forgiveness. Aligning with the FLP was more than a political move for Gresham; it was a personal journey of reconciling his past affiliations with his newfound vision for America.

The Farmer-Labor Party platform called for the nationalization of the telegraph, telephone, and railroads, free coinage of silver, a graduated income tax, and the creation of postal savings banks. While Gresham was unsure about accepting the nomination, the success of the FLP in states like Kentucky had led him to believe that he could launch a bid and worry the two main parties. The convention nominated James H. Kyle, a popular US Senator and one of the first FLP members elected to the chamber, as their candidate for Vice President.


Walter Gresham, Farmer-Labor candidate for President, 1892

Gresham represented the moderate wing of the party and sought to present a respectable faction to voters. On the other hand, Kyle was a radical who appealed to the core base of workers and farmers. These factions weren’t as prevalent as in the Republican and Democratic parties (which would continue to deteriorate as the years passed). Still, they required some electoral massage to smooth the process.

In the tumultuous political climate leading up to the election, Gresham often found himself lost in deep thought, pacing the floor of his private library. As a patriot, he had always prioritized the well-being of his nation above all else. The specter of a divided nation troubled him immensely. The chasm between the major political parties had widened, threatening to bring legislative gridlock and, potentially, civil unrest. Gresham remembered the teachings of his youth, the need for unity, and the importance of seeking a middle ground. The idea of a unity government had always lingered in the back of his mind—a way to bridge divides and prevent stagnation. Many called him "The Reluctant Revolutionary," a moniker designed to convey his desire for compromise between the major factions in Washington.

Moreover, Gresham's association with the Farmer-Labor Party was one of circumstance rather than deep ideological alignment. He often mused that his run for the presidency was more of an independent endeavor, merely supported by the FLP. The party's radical elements, at times, made him uneasy, and he'd often find himself in disagreement with some of their more extreme stances. While he appreciated their support, Gresham never felt wholly at home with the FLP.

In whispered conversations in the corridors of power, Gresham was often heard emphasizing the need for unity and collaboration. His calls for compromise often met with furrowed brows from party hardliners, were an open secret in the political circles of Washington. For those who truly knew Gresham, it was clear that he was a man who would always prioritize the greater good over partisan politics.
Part 5, Chapter XXXIV New
V, XXXIV: "Essentially Unimportant"

Unsurprisingly, President Benjamin Harrison was renominated as the GOP candidate when the dust settled, although it was a fiercer contest than anyone imagined. The Republicans had nominated Harrison in an attempt to stave off the flight of its voters to the FLP: President Harrison had been so concerned at its rise that he passed the Sherman Silver Purchase Act in 1890 to decrease the silver supply by permitting the US Government to purchase silver from producers in the West.

Ultimately, the Sherman Act was a half measure that hadn’t satisfied the free silver lobby, nor the western settlers who were moving away from the Republican Party for a simpler reason: tariffs. The McKinley Tariff was extremely unpopular in the West as it raised the price of food and other goods. The FLP remained wedded to the Georgist position of free land, free trade, and free people, which had attracted Gresham to the party: he broke decisively with the Republicans after the McKinley Tariff. Harrison’s attempts to quell the silver lobby also attracted the ire of the opponents of bimetallism within his own party.


President Benjamin Harrison was looking for a second term

The Fifty-first Congress, under the Harrison administration, also witnessed sweeping legislative actions, asserting strong federal authority. Emblematic of the "Billion Dollar Congress," it was characterized by high spending, notably with the generous Civil War pensions. Key measures like the McKinley Tariff and the Sherman Silver Purchase Act reshaped the economic landscape, while the Sherman Antitrust Act aimed to regulate monopolistic practices. However, Congress's lavish expenditures and the economic strain from some policies led to public discontent. Despite substantial legislative accomplishments, the perceived fiscal irresponsibility and economic repercussions made Republicans increasingly unpopular.

The Conservative Gold Wing of the Republican Party dominated proceedings, managing the process as to sideline the calls for more radical policies from the Silver Republicans. Despite including bimetallism in its official party program, the Republican platform gave a nod to silver without genuinely embracing its tenets. This stance, along with the party's firm commitment to high tariffs and stricter immigration policies, reflected the Gold Wing's desire to maintain the economic status quo and appeal to industrial and banking interests.

The convention's political manoeuvrings were shocking to many within the political establishment. McKinley, perceived as a threat to Harrison’s candidature from the moderate-progressive wing of the party, was sidelined as he became the chairman of the convention, a politically neutral role. Blaine, another perceived challenger, decided not to seek nomination after being strongarmed by the Gold wing, which believed that Harrison could be controlled more effectively. These machinations demonstrated the internal conflicts and power plays within the party. While the party leadership successfully re-nominated Harrison, the internal fractures pointed to a party at odds with itself, struggling to unify its base.

The Republican platform’s mention of sympathy for the Democratic Federation of Iberia and persecuted Jews in Europe showed an attempt to cast a wider net of support. Still, the party's true commitment to these issues remained unclear. The overwhelming influence of the Conservative Gold Wing at the convention would have lasting implications for the Republican Party and its future direction.

Despite the ease of Harrison’s nomination, there was significant foreboding about the prospects of Harrison in the election. A prominent figure and former Republican candidate for Mayor of New York, Theodore Roosevelt, wrote to a colleague during the convention, “It seems that the country is moving away from the Grand Old Party. While President Harrison garners my endorsement and is the best placed, in my opinion, to force a compromise between the two growing factions of the country, I fear the President is doomed to be placed in the political vice. My choice, despite my endorsement, would be to support the candidacy of Gresham: a good Republican who is undoubtedly more popular than anyone associated with the current administration.”

The Democratic National Convention was a spectacle of division and debate. Passionate speeches filled the air, some met with resounding applause, and others drowned in a chorus of boos. The deep fissures within the party were evident, not just in words but in the very atmosphere of the convention hall. Democrats were fiercely divided between its Silver and Gold wings of the party and between the 'Bourbon' conservative wing and the growing progressive wing.

The establishment of the Farmer-Labor threat to its left had emboldened progressives to push a more radical program. At the same time, the Bourbon wing, in coalition with the conservative southern Democrats, maintained a hold on the party machinery and looked set to renominate Grover Cleveland for President. Cleveland was a member of the gold camp and was essentially a classical liberal, and with a rising threat to the party arriving, seen as ineffectual to the task. Senior figures believed that free trade, not free silver, would determine most voters' minds as it affected everyday costs.


Grover Cleveland, the Democratic Party candidate for the 1892 Election

The 1892 Democratic Platform voiced strong opposition to Republican policies, including the Lodge Bill, designed to impose federal control of elections to prevent subversion of black voters, which was extremely unpopular with Southern Democrats. It also rallied against the extravagant spending of the 51st Congress, the McKinley Tariff, and the Sherman Silver Purchase Act. The Democrats expressed concern over the recent Republican convention's nomination process, seeing it as an affront to democratic ideals. They also sought protections for railway employees and a robust waterway infrastructure.

On the international stage, the Democrats condemned the oppression of various European governments towards their Jewish and Lutheran subjects. The platform backed the construction of the Nicaragua Canal, affirmed the need for a competent navy, and displayed an openness towards Canadian provinces joining the Republic. Domestically, they proposed rigorous enforcement of laws against Chinese immigration and contract foreign workmen but championed the rights of industrious immigrants. They advocated for liberal state-level appropriations for public schools, keeping parental rights in education decisions, and providing just pensions for Union war veterans.

In the end, while overtures were made to appeal to progressive voters, Cleveland dismissed the platform's progressive ideals, telling a newspaper reporter (believing he was speaking off-the-record in what might be the first ever ‘hot mic’ of American political history) that the measures were “essentially unimportant.”
Part 5, Chapter XXXV New
V, XXXV: A Party Betrayed
After Cleveland's nomination and his admission of empty promises to the progressive wings of his party, several members spent the campaign drifting from Cleveland and towards Gresham, and the intervention of the popular Irish Premier, Michael Davitt, further boosted Gresham's popularity on the Eastern Seaboard. Many Catholic Democrats switched to the Farmer-Labor ticket, as did many Republicans in states like New York that had links to the labour movement. Gresham's history as a former Republican also undermined President Harrison's support among an element of the Republican's former base of labourers.

As the results trickled in, a hush descended upon the Republican campaign headquarters. Faces turned grim, and some heads hung in disbelief. The mighty party had been dealt a blow, and the uncertainty of America's choice echoed in the tense murmurs of the crowd. Across the west, Republican slates had fallen to the Farmer-Labor Party, and in its other heartland, the east, it had lost New York's electoral votes and its state house. Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New Hampshire, and Delaware, each with a large Irish population, also defected to the FLP. When the electoral count was tallied, none had secured a majority of the electoral votes, but it was clear that President Harrison had been defeated, only securing 87 electoral votes.

1892 United States Presidential Electoral Vote
Grover Cleveland (Democratic) - 210 (16 States Carried)
Walter Q. Gresham (Farmer-Labor) - 147 (14 States Carried)
Benjamin Harrison (Republican) - 87 (13 States Carried)


In the Senate and House, both major parties took hits. The FLP swept state legislatures in the west, displacing Republicans primarily, but a number of states in the Great Plains, like Texas, fell to the FLP. In the following Senate elections, after these members had been voted in, the FLP caucus in the Senate grew to 15 seats. In the House, the FLP narrowly missed out on overtaking the Republicans. The Democrats emerged as the largest party in each, and Grover Cleveland with 4.2 million votes, Gresham second in the popular vote with four million, and Benjamin Harrison third, with three million. No parties controlled the legislature, and there would have to be a contingent election for the next President of the United States. What's more, the coming weeks would mean that these party allegiances were worthless when the legislative work was approaching.

US Senate after the Election
Democrats 38
Republicans 35
Farmer-Labor 15


US House after the Election
Democrats 175
Republicans 95
Farmer-Labor 84


Contingent Election, First Round
Grover Cleveland (Democratic) - 16
Walter Q. Gresham (Farmer-Labor) - 14
Benjamin Harrison (Republican) - 13

Contingent Election, Second Round
Grover Cleveland (Democratic) - 22
Walter Q. Gresham (Farmer-Labor) - 18
Benjamin Harrison (Republican) - 3

Gresham agreed with senior Democratic leadership to stand aside in exchange for the Secretary of State position, and the leader essentially defected immediately after the election finished. The FLP nominee then negotiated with several more conservative Republican delegations to bring them onside, promising a renewed all-party cabinet. In the House of Representatives chamber, Gresham sat in the viewing gallery. Word has spread that the nominee had sold his party out prior to the second ballot, but FLP members in the House simply couldn't believe it. It was done: Cleveland had secured a second term through the negotiation tactics of his rival.

The room was cold and silent as Gresham's betrayal became evident. 'After all we've built, Walter?' James H. Kyle, the vice-presidential candidate, called across the viewing gallery, his voice tinged with a mix of anger and disbelief. Gresham shifted uncomfortably, his usual eloquence failing him. “I believed in our cause,” he began, but his voice faltered under the weight of dozens of piercing eyes, "but a house divided against itself cannot stand." An onlooker shouted, “He lies! Gresham never once cared about the people, only power!”

A prominent member of the Farmer-Labor Party, James G. Field, stood up, his voice clear and unwavering, “You've traded the hopes and dreams of the American workers and farmers for a seat at their table. Your betrayal is a testament to your character, not our cause.” The room erupted in agreement, and the decision was unanimous. Once a beacon of hope for the party, Gresham was now an outcast. Even Democrats and Republicans were horrified at the betrayal, with some openly siding with the FLP on the steps of the US Capitol.

The chamber was thick with tension as Gresham's betrayal became clear. Faces once friendly now looked upon him with disdain. The silence was palpable, broken only by the solemn declaration of his expulsion from the Farmer-Labor Confederation. Showing his flippant disregard for the party that nominated him, he didn't even show up to the meeting expelling him.

The administration would immediately jettison free silver, nationalisation, and inflationary monetary policy, instead focusing on removing tariffs and promoting smaller government. The 1892 election is considered the end of the Third Party System and the beginning of the Fourth Party System, punctuated by gridlock and splintered government. Cleveland is considered the first modern Federalist President, as his alliance between the Democrats, who were primarily Southern, and Republicans from big industries in the north acted against the FLP and marginalised them from power as separate organisations. Defeat clutched from the jaws of victory. The Democratic-Republican Party considers the members who protested the election to be its first caucus. These three groups, the pro-Cleveland, pro-Unity Federalist Party, the anti-Cleveland, pro-reform Democratic-Republican Party, and the Farmer-Labor Party, would be the basis of the Fourth Party System.

Among Farmer-Labor supporters, Gresham became public enemy number one. They would be hurt but not unenthused by the disappointment of the Cleveland administration and keen to find a more morally sound candidate in 1896. As the dust settled on the 1892 elections, America stood at a crossroads, with the FLP licking its wounds but far from defeated. The coming years would test the nation's resolve and redefine its political identity.
Supplemental: The Balkan Realms New
Supplemental: The Balkan Kingdom under Carol I

From “The Powderkeg Kingdom: Balkan Kingdom 1886-1907” by R. Crampton, 1997

“Domestically, The period between 1886 and 1892 was foundational for the Balkan Kingdom, seeing the union of Romania and Bulgaria in a bid to resist larger European powers' influence and to realize a long-standing dream of Balkan unity.

While this text uses the unitary term ‘Balkan Kingdom’ to describe the state, it was, in practice, a loose personal union of the Tsardom of Bulgaria, Kingdom of Romania, and a created entity called the Grand Principality of Niš, which was created in the South and East of Serbia. Niš remained part of Serbia and was controlled in an uneasy condominium with Austria.

The state as a whole was described as the ‘Balkan Kingdom,’ or ‘Balkan Realm,’ as Carol I was King of Romania, Tsar of Bulgaria, and Grand Prince of Niš. Internally, ‘the Realm’ was used, and both were interchangeable when describing the Balkans outside of the Peninsular. Despite ruling his Realm as a collection of dynastic entities, during these transformative years, the Balkan Kingdom’s political, economic, and socio-cultural landscape underwent significant reshaping, setting the stage for the events leading up to the Turbulence.

The Russian intervention in Bulgaria and the death of Knyaz Ferdinand saw the rise of Carol I to the Bulgarian throne. This move, symbolizing the personal union of Bulgaria and Romania, faced Austrian resistance. However, the consequent Balkan War of Independence culminated in the formation of the Balkan Kingdom, marked by the expulsion of Austria hegemony in Serbia and the Kingdom’s territorial expansion. The walkback from Serbia to condominium status was controversial throughout the Realm, and was equally unpopular in the Hungarian half of the Habsburg lands, as it was seen as the first step to Romanian annexation of Transylvania.

Politics in the Realm was divided between national and Kingdom-wide spheres. The Realm was governed by a ‘Unified Diet,’ which contained representatives from the three realms. Carol appointed Stefan Stambolov as High Commissioner of the Realm, analogous to Prime Mininter or Chancellor. Carol insisted that six Vice Commissioners were appointed, split equally between Bulgarian, Romanian, and Serbian members, referred collectively as the Imperial Commission.

Stambolov lobbied Carol to establish a governance structure where Romania, Bulgaria, and the Grand Principality maintained their constitutions and laws to allow the states to feel at ease in the budding empire. While the Commission acted primarily as a coordination body, its influence was profound, especially in foreign policy and defense matters - two of its members were military advisors from the Bulgarian and Romanian Army.

While Bulgaria remained agriculturally driven with limited industry and resources, Romania presented a richer economic profile. The period saw efforts to harmonize economic policies, promote cross-border trade, and encourage foreign investments, particularly from the Accord Powers. The question of a unified currency remained unanswered, with both nations holding onto their monetary systems and Serbia continuing to use its currency.

While this could have been an issue, the country was sitting on relatively full coffers after Stambolov initiated a Realm-wide reform of tax collection, closing loopholes, especially for a group in Romania called the ‘lessers’ or intermediaries between landlords and peasants. Further reforms aimed at bulking up the national treasury for a program for a unification effort: building bridges and roads throughout the Realm, connecting the territories through rail, and also funding infrastructure projects within the wider Balkan region to impress what it saw as an emerging Great Power status on the region.

The split in the country that needed to be bridged extended to the armed forces. Carol had command over two distinct armies, which presented both strength and challenges. This joint force was the Kingdom’s bulwark against external threats, but balancing the interests, traditions, and strategies of two distinct military entities required constant diplomacy. Carol maintained a command structure for both armies, but the force was not tested enough to predict whether it could maintain unity in the threat of an invasion. Carol utilised Stambolov's enthusiasm for the project, and the presence of military commanders on the Commission, to further solidify cooperation. The ruler of the Balkan's attempts to foster a unified Balkan identity amidst inherent diversity were noteworthy.

While a broader Balkan consciousness began to take shape, Romanian and Bulgarian cultures and traditions flourished autonomously. During this period, the Kingdom showcased a unique interplay of culture, striving to amalgamate different traditions while still allowing individual identities to shine.

The Martenitsa Festival, a Bulgarian tradition symbolizing the arrival of spring, began to gain popularity in parts of Romania, often blending with Romanian customs related to Mărțișor. Conversely, Romanian literary works, such as those by Mihai Eminescu, saw translations into Bulgarian and were embraced for their universal themes.

Art also became a bridge between the two nations. Bulgarian and Romanian artists collaborated in joint exhibitions, showcasing the shared themes of hope, struggle, and unity in their artworks. Theater troupes from Sofia and Bucharest frequently toured each other's countries, performing plays that subtly emphasized Balkan unity and shared heritage. This cultural exchange was not one-sided; Bulgarian writers such as Ivan Vazov began to focus on themes that while intrinsically Bulgarian, resonated with the broader Balkan experiences, particularly the shared Ottoman past and the dream of a united future. His publication of Under the Yoke, a book that presents the Ottoman repression of the peninsular, was published in Romanian, Bulgarian, and Serbian, and read widely in each of the Kingdoms.

The Kingdom’s foreign policy was a tightrope walk. While fostering ties with the Accord Powers, the Balkan Realms faced non-cooperation from traditional European juggernauts Russia. While Austria officially tolerated the Balkan Realms, it continued to treat each state as separate, and sent ambassadors to Sofia and Bucharest. Stambolov's diplomacy sought to seek further recognition of the unified arrangement, and protect Balkan strategic interests without overly antagonizing any major power. While Carol still maintained autonomy over foreign affairs, it was expected that should it impact a few factors: the territory of the Realms, the Crown’s relationship with the Austrians and Russians, and decisions with implications for Pan-Balkanism, would always be consulted with the Unified Diet.

While coming from Catholic lineage, Carol confirmed the domination of Eastern Orthodoxy in his realms. The recognition of the Romanian, Bulgarian, and Serbia Patriarchs on equal footing, dominant within their own spheres, as well as Catholic and Protestants, coupled with oppressive state-sanctioned measures against non-Christians, marked this period. Carol walked an impressive tightrope between these branches of the Orthodox faith, often eternally quarrelling. Carol's pronouncement that his realms would welcome 'all of the Orthodox and Christian faiths' led to heated rivalry between the Romanian and Bulgarian Patriarchs. The Monarchs ability to play them off one another and balance their interests was testament to his ability as a unifying Monarch.

The preeminence of Eastern Orthodoxy under Carol's reign was both a uniting and divisive factor within the Kingdom. While it offered a common religious platform for Romanians, Bulgarians, and Serbians, it also meant the marginalization of other religious communities, especially Muslims, Jews, and other non-Christians. Religious festivals and holidays, predominantly Eastern Orthodox in nature, were promoted as national events, further entrenching its dominance. However, this overt favoritism led to growing discontent among other religious communities. Muslims, who had coexisted in the Balkans for centuries, found themselves sidelined, with many mosques either being appropriated or repurposed, leading to silent protests and passive resistance.

In parts of Bulgaria, where Catholic communities were significant, there were reports of subtle tensions, especially during religious festivals. The state's heavy-handed approach in suppressing non-Orthodox religious expressions was a ticking time bomb, threatening the Kingdom's internal cohesion. Although outright revolts were rare, there was an undercurrent of unrest, a silent dissent that echoed in the Kingdom's quieter corners.

The implications were deep-seated, marginalising significant portions of the population, especially non-Christian landless peasants. The years 1886-1892 witnessed a burgeoning of educational institutions in both countries of the Kingdom. Carol's personal initiatives, like learning Bulgarian and Serbo-Croat to speak with all of his subjects, symbolized the leadership's intent to bridge linguistic divides. However, each state continued its educational trajectory in its native tongue, and maintaining linguistic parity proved costly in administration, leading to a cumbersome quarrel between Romanian and Bulgarian to be the ‘primal’ language of the state.

Northern Serbia's potential inclusion in the Kingdom remained a significant talking point. Carol and the Commission were acutely aware of such a move's repercussions, especially vis-à-vis Austria. Consequently, while there were diplomatic overtures, a full integration did not materialize during this period. As the Kingdom solidified its foundations, the dream of a united Balkan State, including nations like Greece, Montenegro, Bosnia, and Croatia, began to gain momentum. The leadership envisioned a formidable entity, able to hold its own in the tumultuous European political landscape.

The years 1886-1892 marked a transformative era for the Balkan Kingdom, symbolizing a bold step towards regional unity amidst the backdrop of European politics. King Carol I's vision of a united Balkan entity sought to thread together diverse cultural, economic, and political landscapes. While successes were aplenty, from the blending of cultural identities to the establishment of an influential Unified Diet, challenges persistently loomed. The Kingdom's inception, grounded in the aspirations of unity and sovereignty, set the trajectory for future dynamics. As the Balkan Kingdom navigated its foundational years, the dream of an expansive united Balkan State continued to simmer, hinting at the vast potential and challenges that lay ahead.”